Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Overcome Part 3 - The Force of Joy!

Hello everyone,

We’ve been learning how to overcome those tough times, where we feel like we’re surrounded by problems that threaten to steal our peace, and bring trouble into our lives.  

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are pressed in on every side, and are battling to stand your ground in faith and keep your peace, this message is for you.  There is a strong and dependable power you can tap into that will not just strengthen you; but safely and surely carry you right out of your struggle and into victory!

I’ve mentioned before how Jesus warned us of difficult, stressful, and frustrating situations that we are bound to face in this life. Most importantly is that He also promised that if we stay vitally connected to Him, we would be well able to overcome each one.  

Let’s take a look at His Words in John 16:33 (AMPC), “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Now look at what Philippians 4:13 says, “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”

The power to overcome any difficulty or trouble in this life has everything to do with our inseparable connection with the Person Who has already overcome all.  When we learn how to tap into the life and peace we have in intimately knowing Jesus, and draw from His endless reservoir of life, we will be able to overcome, just as He has.   

The book of James gives us clear practical wisdom on how we can draw from that supernatural power and inner strength of the Holy Ghost, Who lives inside us to do just that.

Recently, I spent time studying James 1:2-6, and with the help of my Sparkling Gems from the Greek, by Greek scholar Rick Renner, I found truth that will practically teach us how to tap into our Source of life and peace, and depend on Him to lead and even carry us out of our mess, and into victory.

Let’s begin with James 1:2 that says, “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.”

This statement is quite laughable really.  Who in their right mind would consider the trouble and distress they are trapped in as wholly joyful?  Well  the truth is, this very statement holds the key to unlocking the door that leads us right out of trouble and into victory.

Did you know that when James instructed us to be joyful, it wasn’t a casual statement?  In fact, he made a very deliberate choice of words here.  Being  joyful in the heat of crises is more powerful than we might realise.  What’s more, being joyful is not something that just spontaneously happens, it’s a deliberate, intentional choice we have to make.  But oh my,      the results of choosing joy - are so worth our while!

Today I want to tell you about the carrying power of joy.  When I say joy, I mean real joy, that is a divine force given by the Spirit of God, that rises up strong from inside your spirit.  A great way to understand the durable, sustaining force and power of joy is to compare it to happiness.  

Scientifically speaking, happiness is a wonderful emotion that releases healthy hormones called endorphins in our bodies. These endorphins enable our immune systems to fight off disease and maintain a general good sense of well being.  

I heard Rick Renner use this example in one of his teaching videos, and I loved the vivid picture it planted in my mind.  

Imagine a pebble being thrown into a lake of calm water.  As it hits the water it immediately sends out ripples that begin strong and obvious, then spread out quickly, and become less and weaker as they travel out.  

Happiness is similar to that pebble.  It’s an emotion that sends out good ‘shockwaves’ inside us, positivity charging and affecting our well being.  It‘s also quite contagious and tends to ‘rub off’ and positively affect those around us too.  

However, on the downside, this emotion is rather fleeting, because it’s dependant on circumstance.  When things are going well for us, or we hear good news, or a good report, we feel really happy.  Then the moment our circumstances change for the worse, that happiness disappears as quickly as it appeared.

Now joy, on the other hand, is entirely different.  Instead of it being something that suddenly comes on the tail of a favourable circumstance, joy is a character, or quality of the Spirit of God Who lives inside us.  It’s nature is eternal.  It doesn’t come and go, it’s always there, waiting for us to draw from it and depend on it. 

Unlike happiness that sends out ripples on the surface of the water, joy acts as a powerful current beneath the surface of a raging river.  Even without physically seeing this current, it’s very real, and constant. The force of this Godly emotion has the power to carry us through any ordeal,  into victory.

The joy that comes up from the Spirit of God inside your spirit literally is your strength to overcome.

Joy is unaffected by outward circumstances and usually thrives best when times are tough. I love this description I read the best, “Joy is God’s supernatural response to the devil’s attacks!”.

Now we can see an example of how this spiritual force worked for the believers in First Thessalonians 1:6.  When we take a good close look at it, we’ll find a clue that leads us to activating this joy in our lives to the point where it becomes more than just a light nudge, but a mighty flow!

1 Thessalonians 1:6, And you [set yourselves to] become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself, for you welcomed our message in [spite of] much persecution, with joy [inspired] by the Holy Spirit;”.

Besides confirming that this joy comes from and is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul indicates that it was activated during times of persecution, which were tremendously stressful and dangerous times for the believers.  He also gives a hint of one of the end results, or benefits of joy working inside the believers, saying they were set up to become imitators of Paul and Christ.  In other words, when joy had done its active work in them, it had produced in them the same quality and maturity of those who overcome.  

So let’s do a quick summary of what we’ve learnt so far about the spiritual force of joy.

  1. Joy is a character or the Holy Spirit that resides in every believer, giving it an eternal, divine nature.
  2. Joy is especially active under times of pressure, where it thrives.
  3. Joy is able to rise up strong inside a believer and carry them through their trial to victory.
  4. One of the benefits, or end results of joy is the overcoming, character of Christ formed within us.

The clue to how we can activate this joy is found when Paul tells the believers they had welcomed the message, in spite of the persecution.  Joy comes when we willingly embrace the truth of God’s Word, in the midst of our trouble.

That’s where we are going to start off next week.  Understanding how our attitude towards God’s Word causes joy to rise up as a strong, and unstoppable force of strength to overcome in life!  

Much love,


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Overcome Part 2 - Prayer and Praise

Hello everyone,

There is always something hopeful about starting fresh isn't there?  It just seems to give us a new perspective on things.  Like shaking off the dust, or turning a new leaf, or cleaning the slate. Either way, a new week, or day, or moment, means a new beginning. Sometimes, that's exactly what we need to overcome what lies behind us, as well as what lies ahead.

In last week’s letter, we spoke about the profound perspective Paul and Silas had adopted to overcome the terrible situation they found themselves in.  They chose to shake off the issue of the injustice done, and instead, dwell on something entirely different.  There perspective of choice was the good, and merciful character of their God - and the results were staggering!

Paul and Silas chose to  PRAY and PRAISE.  Now that’s a pretty good pattern to follow. Regardless of whether our trouble or conflicting circumstance is self inflicted or not, the fact that we are willing to take on a new perspective of prayer and praise is the very best place to begin.  

Let’s first look at the perspective of PRAYER. Essentially, prayer involves us surrendering everything to God, and seeking out His wisdom and mercy.  That includes laying any issue down before Him, expecting to receive His wisdom concerning it.  It may even involve repenting of any self-induced mistakes.  As long as there is a will to surrender, and a will to listen and obey - a new beginning is in site!   And when we choose God’s wisdom over our own lack of it, everything changes, bringing fresh, new hope in its wake.  

God's Spirit and His Word will always provide the wisdom we need to overcome any situation, every time. But sometimes, before we can hear or see it clearly, we need to wipe away the clouds of despair and worry that cause us to become easily overwhelmed.

That's where PRAISE comes in! Deciding to place our focus on Who the Lord Jesus is, and not on our own brokenness or inadequacy is what empowers us to have an overcoming attitude where we don’t feel overcome by our circumstances. We can choose to get caught up in the glorious hope we have in the person of Jesus Christ as we praise Him from the depths of our hearts, in spite of the trouble or circumstances that surround us.

So what really happens when we praise?  Since the presence of God inhabits our praises, our choosing to glorify Him, brings His glory and power straight into the heart of our circumstance.  God's power on the job, will overpower every fearful thought and supernaturally turn our 'mourning' of the situation into dancing.  It will even destroy the enemy’s power over the situation, making whatever was purposed for our downfall an opportunity to see the glory of God in action.  

So, our praise supercharges us with the power, faith and hope we need to have an overcoming attitude when we pray. It clears away the clouds of doubt and confusion as it silences the enemy, and allows us to hear God and clearly see His perspective. Instead of the flesh having the upper hand, our spirit man is now dominating the battleground.

A person who has surrendered to the Lord with a heart full of praise, becomes a magnet to the goodness and favour of God!  Even goodness and mercy follow him around wherever he goes!   Like an earthquake in the middle of the night, where God’s Presence shook the very foundation of what was intended for Paul and Silas’s demise - God’s Presence that rises from your praise will shake the foundation of what the enemy planned for your despair. 

Now that's what I call a victorious ending!  It all begins with a decision to start fresh - with a new perspective of PRAYER and PRAISE.  We may never have to face the kind of life threatening ordeals Paul and Silas had to face, but their testimony gives us the kind of practical wisdom we need to face every challenge the right way.   

Next week I want to share some practical wisdom James talks about, where we can walking out of the devil’s trap into victory!  It will be well worth your time, teaching you how to remain in a place of overcoming victory, instead of being overcome.

Love you dearly,


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Overcome Part 1 - Look Up!

Hello everyone,

I'm so excited about this series the Lord has laid on my heart to share with you.  It’s called “Overcome”, and I know it will find its way into your heart and be a tremendous encouragement to you!  

We all know the journey of life can take some rough turns, and that we can be faced with some hardships that really seem to have the power to overwhelm and overcome us. Today, I want to dare you to take your eyes off of what’s overwhelming you right now, and fix them on something that, I guarantee, will cause a powerfully, strong current of supernatural strength to rise up from deep within your spirit, and lead you into victory!  

If anyone in Bible times knew the reality of troubled times it was the Apostle Paul.  In fact, he endured more life threatening challenges than any of us will see in our lifetime.  Yet, there was something so profound about the way Paul managed to go through each difficulty as an overcomer, instead of as a victim who was overcome by his circumstances.  

This has always intrigued me, and I just know there is a lesson in life for us to glean from it.  So, open your hearts dear ones, and let's trust the Holy Spirit to be our teacher!

I was reading the account in Acts 16, where Paul & Silas were severely persecuted for working the gospel.  I say 'working' because they were doing more than just preaching; they were confirming the gospel with signs, wonders and miracles, through the work of the Holy Spirit in them.  

But their good work didn't find them favour with everyone - they were arrested, stripped of their clothes, beaten and thrown into the centre of a dark, damp and dingy prison.  And all of this because Paul cast a demon out of a young slave girl and set her free from its demonic oppression.  How unjust!  

What amazes me the most in this story is the attitude of Paul and Silas throughout this ordeal!  The only time Paul showed frustration, annoyance and anger was over the demon who was abusing the young girl who was following them around for days, shouting and causing a commotion while they were trying to do their work for the Lord. Verse 18 says, "Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out,..." Yet, he showed no indication of irritation or outrage when falsely accused and persecuted for helping the girl.  

He didn't even loose his cool when he and Silas were alone in the cold, dark prison cell, after been beaten and placed in those horrid stocks that were certainly not intended for their comfort - they couldn't even pace off their frustration if their sore and beaten bodies would allow them to.

How did Paul do it?  How did he manage to control his emotions and not get all riled up and anxious about what had to have been an awful and terrible ordeal?  How did he manage to not be overcome with discouragement? 

Well, I went over this story several times, and I do think it had to do with perspective.  Somehow Paul had the kind of perspective in the heat of the moment, that clearly led him and Silas to keep their cool.  They were able to focus on the very thing that would strengthen and encourage them through the ordeal; instead of focusing on the injustice and pain they were enduring.    

They used a key to overcome, instead of being overcome; and the result caused them to experience one of the most thrilling supernatural encounters of a life time!  
In other words, Paul's perspective of the situation led him to control and focus his emotions and actions on the things he should be focusing on, which caused him to overcome instead of be overcome by his circumstances.

Wow, talk about a lesson in life, don't you agree?  Can you imagine that our perspective of any situation has the power to lead us to either overcome or be overcome?

So let's take a look at the perspective Paul and Silas had. The Bible says that in the heart of that dark, damp and dingy prison cell, instead of focusing on the terrible injustice of the whole matter, Paul and Silas chose to pray and sing.  

Now, I had to chuckle at this picture, if it was me, the kind of praying and singing I would be doing would be completely contrary to what they seemed to offer up. I can imagine my pity-full whimpers, or soulful, heavy hearted, 'woe is me' cries.  Can't you? Perhaps even a prayer that would resemble, "Why me Lord, don't you love me anymore, why did you allow this to happen, what have I done to deserve this?..."  No, not so from Paul and Silas.  

Their prayers and songs were so completely different to what was expected from two men in their situation that it caught and captivated the attention of every other prisoner in that disgusting prison that night.  The Bible says that in the middle of the night all the prisoners were listening to them.  

Here it comes friends, here is the perspective they chose.... even in their darkest hour, instead of moping and complaining, Paul and Silas chose to turn their attention on the beauty of Who Jesus is.

They got so caught up in His presence and glory that it brought such comfort and peace to the most hardened of criminals, all around them.  Now, can you imagine what kind of praying and singing must have been going on?  

Maybe something like, "Oh Lord, my God, you are so powerful, so glorious, so gracious and kind and merciful.  Your faithfulness extends forever and your love never fails.  Who or what can compare to your majesty and your matchless goodness.  You are my portion, you are my strength, you are my joy and my peace......".  

Hey, you just sit there for a moment and begin to spontaneously, from your spirit, praise the Lord like that - I can guarantee that in no time at all His overwhelming presence will begin to overpower and overshadow and overflow inside every part of your being and into the very atmosphere around you.  

I know this because I have tried it and found it to be TRUE!!!

Paul and Silas were not the only ones caught up in all that glory!  The other prisoners must have been captivated by it, because even after the earthquake shook the very foundations of the place, and flung open every door - they all remained just where they were.

I believe they must have been enveloped in the matchless glory that came from Paul and Silas's pure, sincere worship.   Perhaps the prospect of physical freedom was less appealing or captivating to them than the matchless, fulfilling freedom found from being in the beautiful presence of the Lord.  

Or maybe they were too dumbfound by the supernatural earthquake they found themselves in the heart of.  There's even the possibility of angels being present at each of their doorways that kept them in their place - either way, there was no doubt the hand of God moved in that place on behalf of two praying, worshipping men.

Paul and Silas chose to focus on Jesus and His majesty instead of their own sorry state, and that changed everything!

Now there is a little more I'd like to share on Paul and Silas's perspective that caused them to overcome their hardships with such miraculous and ground shaking results.  

That will come in next weeks letter.  For now, I believe we have a wonderful opportunity to 'practice' our spontaneous praise and worship - centring on Who God is in our lives.  Don’t  be surprised to see His hand move on your behalf when you deliberately choose to look up, instead of being overwhelmed by what’s around you.

Much love,


Monday, July 8, 2019

The Blessing Part 3 - Not Until You Bless Me

Hello everyone,

In the past couple of letters we’ve been taking a close look at the new covenant promise we have in Christ Jesus.  We have seen that the blessing God spoke over Abraham, that was then passed to Isaac, then Jacob and continued through their lineage until Christ Jesus - is now available to anyone who receives Christ as Lord!

However, the blessing has now changed somewhat - nothing has been taken away from it, it has just become far better!  If you remember we read what Hebrews 7:22-23 says, “In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant].”  

Now in the first of these three letters on the blessing of God, we saw how the Hebrew translation for the word blessing essentially means, empowered to prosper.  When the blessing of the Lord rested upon Abraham and his descendants, it was easily identified by His protection and provision.   

Interestingly, the Greek translation for the blessing of the Lord in the New Testament defines it as being far more than just an outward demonstration of God’s prosperity.   It describes it as being a divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in a life, in the form of favour, benefits, joy, liberty, pleasure and a matter of bounty.  (Strongs concordance).  

The true blessing of God that we can embrace and enjoy as His own children, is - His Own Spirit living inside us, and His glorious nature radiating through us.  

In the words of Pastor Kevin Davis, when we encounter the Person of Jesus Christ, “...it is the most precious and beautiful experience any human being can have. With every attempt to describe it, words simply fall short of its eternal significance on our hearts and souls.   That’s because when God created man, He placed a void inside of him that can only be filled by Him.”  

What Abraham, Isaac and Jacob experienced was only a shadow and type of what God had established with Adam before the fall, and what Jesus would once again restore to us through the finished work of the cross.  

Somehow, in Genesis 32, Jacob must have sensed and even recognised that without an encounter with the One, true God, the spoken blessing was not enough to reassure him that God was with him, and for him.    

Even after stealing his brother’s birthright, there was a distinctive void in his heart that could not be filled, except by a supernatural encounter with God.  That void pushed him to desperation.  In verse 23 and 24 of Genesis 32, Jacob purposefully set himself apart from all the wealth and prosperity that birthright brought him, so he could be alone with God. 

In verse 26, we see how Jacob has a face to face encounter with God and he clings with all his might to Him, crying out, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” .  What a strange thing to say.  Jacob was already blessed.  He had already received the spoken, promised blessing through the birthright he stole.  There was plenty of evidence in the form of wealth and prosperity of that fact.

Could it be that he somehow recognised and knew the true blessing ran much deeper into the crevices of his very soul than just a superficial, casual acquaintance with the God of His father?  Jacob wanted more - he wanted to encounter God for himself, with his own willing and surrendered heart.  Jacob recognised that the true blessing was not something that could be inherited or passed on, or by trickery be manipulated into his life.  He had to personally seek after His God and experience Him for himself.  

That night in his encounter with the Living God, Jacob received a blessing that changed everything about him.  His identity and destiny were forever altered. God called Him Israel, the name He set aside for His Own people.  It means contender with God.  In other words - Jacob had a face-to-face encounter with God, where he personally looked into His face while exposing his own vulnerability and flaws.  He finally gave up hiding behind his father’s faith and his own schemes, to face the truth of who he really was in the light of how God saw Him to be.  The most remarkable truth became a revelation to Jacob that night that would never leave him.  God saw him entirely, and in spite of what He saw, chose to be the One who would personally be with him and lead him every day of his life. 

For us, knowing and experiencing the true blessing of God is not something we can receive from others either.  It can’t be inherited and passed down from our family members.  Neither can it be manipulated into our lives or received by a mechanical formula or religious ritual.  We must hunger for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Himself, in order to receive and experience the blessing of God in our lives.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” 

God Himself is the reward we receive when we come to Him in faith.  All we will ever need to live the abundant life He has secured for us can only be found in knowing Him.  The growing epidemic among Christians to chase after the blessing as the answer to all their problems and a means to achieve success and prosperity in life, will only result in disappointment and disillusionment.

That’s why I wanted to spend some time in these letters bringing things into God’s perspective. When we begin to seek after the things He calls a priority, over and above the things we think are our priority, we will see His blessing come in its fullness in every area of our lives.  Seeking God and His ways first and constantly being aware of Who is living inside us, will cause God’s blessing to be secure and established in us.

Why not take the time to draw near to the Lord this week, open your heart to Him today and experience the true blessing of knowing Him.

All my love,